Title: Chinese Export Silver Bullion. Details buried in the description: White Metal.
Title: Chinese Old Silver Bullion. Details: "Silver/copper-nickel allay/zinc"
Title: Old CHINESE "zhaocaijnbao" SILVER BULLION. Details: "Silver/copper-nickel allay/zinc"
Title: Old Chinese "Buddha" Silver Sculpture. Details: "Silver/copper-nickel allay/zinc".
Note: this is a very frequently used description, including the misspelling, and must be part of a flawed template provided to multiple sellers by the manufacturer of these items.
Title: Chinese Old Sterling Silver Qing Dynasty (1736-1790). Details: 206 grams of "silver" for $14 (and they have 75 more of them!). That's equivalent to about $2.50 per ounce. Don't let "greed" blind you to the fact that these are not sterling silver and may contain no silver at all.
Title: Chinese Old Sterling Silver Zodiac. Details: 155 grams for 99¢ and free shipping from China. Feedback: Aluminum. That's equivalent to about $0.20 per ounce.
I could list dozens more, but you should get the picture by now: these items are not silver bullion, but instead, are just slabs of metal with intricate designs.
These sellers are not foolishly selling valuable antique silver artifacts at below market prices. They know exactly what they are selling. They want you to think that they are stupid or uninformed. They want you to believe their false/misleading listing titles. They hope that you believe you can buy genuine silver items for well below market value. They hope your greed for a "good deal" will keep you from investigating before bidding. They think you are stupid or misinformed. I congratulate you for reading this guide before getting getting cheated or being convinced you can get something very valuable for a small price.
Some, but not all, sellers will disclose that the item is not actually pure silver. Some sellers LIE when they state the item is "Sterling silver", "old Chinese silver", or just "silver". None of the listings mention the actual purity of the silver and some listings are completely devoid of any description of the item (these are LIES of omission). At least one seller includes this disclaimer "I do not know the purity of the silver, I am selling the art work only".
None of these "old Chinese" items are genuine sterling silver. Although ALL listings have the word "silver" in the title, it is doubtful there is anything but an insignificant amount of silver, if any silver at all, in these items. In fact, it is unknown what metal is actually used to make these things. It is possible that they contain toxic metals (like lead or cadmium) based on other true stories about products made in China.
Yes, they are nice to look at, but please don't place a bid on these as if they were genuine silver or genuinely antique (regardless of what other bidders have foolishly done).
If this guide stopped you from being cheated send me a message through eBay messages, I'd like to hear about it. Or, you could make a post on the eBay "Coins and Paper Money" discussion forum. If you have already purchased these items, if the amount you paid is worth the effort, and you are within eBay/PayPal time limits, seek a refund (for not as described -- not "silver" and/or perhaps "not weight claimed" if applicable) and post appropriate factual follow up feedback comments, especially if you bought from a listing that claimed the items were genuine sterling silver.
I welcome comments as to improving this guide.